Friday 22 June 2012

Stansted Airport Quadra Qaundry

I'm on the plane now, flying out to Belfast for a nice environmental portrait, having negotiated airport security at Stansted Airport.

I have all the gear with me that I packed but it could all have been so very different.

Stansted Airport security has always had a bit of a curse on it where I'm concerned - it is rarely smooth and I once missed a flight while waiting in a queue for more than an hour.

Bag packed.

1 x Canon 5d mkII with 'L' series 24 -105mm F4 lens, Fuji X100 (as back up) 2 x Canon Speedlights, Pocket Wizard TT5's, 2 x Manfrotto 5001B lightstands, two Lastolite reflective brollies (perfect for the job in hand) and 2 x Elinchrom Quadra systems, which all fit inside my Manfrotto Lino bag.

As I packed my bag a little voice in my head said 'why take the Speedlites as well as the Quadra's ?'

I'm now pleased I did, because this choice could have saved the day.

At security my well packed bag was subjected to an extra through fingertip search post scan, and was swabbed for explosives as per usual.

But this guy was beyond thorough.

I was polite and helpful.

Clock ticking, time to departure getting uncomfortably close.

Then he 'found' the Quadra packs and started a minute examination.

All clear - then he started to read the labels on the pack, where he found the words 'Lead Acid Gel'

'You can't fly with this'

'Oh really?' I replied 'I fly with it all the time and I believe it is safe to fly with'

'I'm going to take these to my supervisor' he said

I eavesdropped on the prolonged debate which swung back and forth between the powers that be, between a 'yes' and a 'no'

They let me through in the end but with more than a sideways glance - leaving me to run to the gate and make the plane by the skin of my teeth.

I understand their concern, lead acid batteries per se can be an issue but I understood gel to be different.

Lithium Ion is and issue too which they are even more stringent about.

I think Elinchrom have a certificate/document for download to show the security guys at airports.

I will be checking this one out pronto to ensure this does not happen again, or at least give my argument more of a persuasive fighting chance.

Location:Stansted Airport


ikuma said...

Hey Drew,
I've had encounters with airport staff over my Quadra batteries before as well. The biggest such encounter was when airline staff at the check-in counter in Kansai International Airport scanned my luggage I was about to check in, and saw the batteries on their monitors. They didn't want to let me on the plane at first, then saw the label about IATA compliance on the battery but had no idea what exactly that IATA rule was since they apparently didn't have an IATA rulebook there. Which resulted in them spending about half an hour on the phone until they figured out that I could very well check the batteries in and continue my travels on board their plane. Too bad they didn't upgrade me for the time I had to wait... :)
Other encounters usually just my name being called at the gate and staff having my checked luggage there for me to open and confirm it's just flash equipment. Which was always in Japan, as well.
In any case I was hoping the new Li-Ion battery for the Quadra that's due out this month would make things easier, but that one sentence you wrote about those kind of dampens my hope...

Alex said...

The lead-gel certificate is here:

The Li-ion batteries are specifically made the right size for carry-on. 2 Batteries is just under 100Wh, even together they don't count as a 'Larger' battery.

ikuma said...

Elinchrom has added a document onto their site as well, here it is:

Libby said...

There is always that "one" airport that strikes fear into one's heart isn't there?

Brendan said...

Hope you enjoy Belfast the weather is not too good

Alex said...

Ah yes the Quadra battery. I had a hell of a time at Dubai airport a few years back. I also wrote a blog post about it...

Will be downloading that form pronto!


Unknown said...

Oh the joys of flying....

I have now downloaded and printed the document form Elinchrom.

As good as it is to have I somehow think I will face this challenge again.



John Alex said...

Stansted Express train to London Liverpool Sreet (45 min), & transfer to London Paddington by bus, or the London Underground running every 15 mins, or (b) take the National Express bus running every 30-60 mins and taking about 90 mins (tickets are available in the trminal, at bus station or onboard.Gatwick Chauffeur cars

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